I was driving through town yesterday when I was fortunate to have one of those convenient moments that we all enjoy… Just before I was about to lift my foot of the accelerator and apply the brake as I approached a stoplight, it changed from ‘red’ to ‘green’. (I’m a little strange in that it’s simple pleasures such as this that just make my day). As I passed through the light I looked at the cars coming from both direction of the cross traffic at the intersection and noted how they had to stop so that I could continue uninhibited – I felt like that guy...
on the Titanic movie shouting ‘I’m king of the world!’. Given the perfection of the timing, it felt almost as if the light changed specifically for me…like it saw me coming and said to itself ‘Hey, here he comes – make way – let him through’ (I did warn you that I was a little strange, didn’t I?).
Other than the Lord, I’m not sure what it was that provoked the series of thoughts that I’m about to share.
As my mind began to drift, I thought ‘how cool would it be if whenever and wherever I were to drive, all the stoplights changed & let me pass through so I wouldn’t be inconvenienced by having to stop at any of them’. - It could be like some sort of city-boy, yuppie superpower – (Yes, I've been called peculiar at times; though some mean it as a slur, I wear it with pride - Titus 2:14). Regardless, that would still be pretty AWESOME you must admit!
BUT, seeing as how I am not often the beneficiary of superpowers or other neat imaginary things such as that I had another thought. I reasoned within myself ‘if Icouldn’t be the one for which the lights would change, then maybe I could just follow the fortunate guy who did have that superpower’. I could just follow him all over town passing through all the stoplights, laughing and waving at the unfortunate people who had to stop that happened to be coming in the other direction at that time. I’d have my best ‘I’m with HIM’ expression plastered on my face. Yes, that would be ok…
BUT, seeing as how I am not often the beneficiary of superpowers or other neat imaginary things such as that I had another thought...
…until I realized that if I were to actually benefit from not having to stop at all the lights, I would have to adjust my destination – I couldn’t go where I wanted to go, I had to go wherever the guy with the superpower was going.
Let’s be honest – stoplights are irritating to be sure. If we were to take a poll, my guess would be that very few people would describe them as ‘fun’, ‘exciting’ or another similar adjective. They seem to be nothing more than a nuisance – an aggravation that hinders you from reaching your destination.
But to be sure, stoplights do serve a purpose. Imagine the chaos and accidents that would ensue if we were to remove stoplights all together. We’ve all seen those cop shows where you’re viewing from the dash-cam of the officer giving pursuit, and suddenly you see the car he's chasing run a light and get broadsided by a semi, right? Stoplights, while hated by all are absolutely essential.
Exercising patience when at a standstill
Psalms 46:10a Be still, and know that I am God
There are times in our Christian walk where the LORD gives us liberty to ‘go’. He opens doors for us to walk through; He makes evident the paths before us. Then there are other times where it seems the LORD has us in some type of holding pattern… We have our route planned out and our destination is clear – but instead of the LORD giving us the ‘green light’, we seem to be stuck on ‘red’. We see these as hindrances or irritations; serving no purpose but to cause aggravation. We ask ourselves over and over the question ‘Why’. Why won’t the LORD give me liberty? Why is this obstacle in my path? Why will the LORD not hear me and open a door unto me? All of a sudden, we're begging for a superpower to instantly change that light from ‘red’ to ‘green’.
Resisting the Urge to Chart a New Course
Psalm 33:20 Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.
Sometimes what we will do is, if we see the stoplight before us we’ll change course so we can avoid it. I’m not sure about you, but when I plot a route to travel I plan for the easiest, most direct path to my destination. By doing this I am being the most productive I can be. If I were traveling from point ‘a’ to point ‘b’, it does me little good to visit the rest of the alphabet in between. When we begin to chart a new course we risk some things:
Why won’t the LORD give me liberty? Why is this obstacle in my path?
- The possibility of getting lost
- The probability of prolonging the journey
Trying to avoid the light leads us to make rash decisions to turn unexpectedly. We try to avoid the halt in front of us, not knowing what making the turn might bring us. We could be turning into a construction zone, or hitting a series of lights. You could be trading a minor inconvenience for a major one. Generally speaking, you will travel further and your journey will take longer by making the turn.
While they are an inconvenience, it is rarely beneficial to try and avoid the stoplight… and it is never beneficial to ignore the instruction of the LORD.
Trying to Run the Light
Psalm 40:1 I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.
Other times people take the action of speeding through the light. I get extremely irritated when I see people run red-lights, though it is something I’ve done on multiple occasions (as have many of you). This is inherently dangerous for this very reason:
- The prospect of getting broadsided
We may lay that foot down on the accelerator and begin to blow through that red-light with a smile on our face as we begin to pass under – and we don’t even see the semi about to destroy us until it’s grill is penetrating our drivers window... At that point, it's too late to stop, or take a detour even - we've been mangled in a horrible accident that we didn't see coming - all because we wouldn't yield when we were given clear instruction to.
Following the Man with the Superpower to Avoid Stoplights
Matthew 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
Sometimes in our lives we may spot that man with the light-changing superpower I spoke of earlier. He’s got all the answers, nothing ever seems to slow him down – he’s got it all figured out. So instead of continuing down our own course the LORD has laid before us laden with stoplights, we pull in behind his car and start blowing through them all. For a time it’s fun: (Heb. 11:22) not worrying about the irritations that stoplights can bring. But at some point (hopefully), you realize you are on the wrong path. You’re not heading toward your destination anymore, you’re simply following someone else toward theirs… and their destination may be that of total and utter destruction!
God sets stoplights along our path for His divine purposes. Instead of attempting to avoid them, let’s embrace them. We know that God’s wisdom is far greater than ours (Isa. 55:9) He will always provide for His children (Psalm 37:25) and this light we’re experiencing is for our good and His glory (Rom. 8:28).
May God grant you the wisdom and patience to wait for His direction in all you do…